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Medical studies link Abilify, the top-selling antipsychotic in the U.S., to compulsive gambling and eating. Abilify users who who have accumulated heavy gambling debts are filing legal claims against Otsuka and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Doctors prescribe Abilify (aripirazole) to nearly a million Americans each year to treat mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression, allowing them to lead more stable lives. While the drug is effective at helping to control symptoms, it comes with a side effect that patients don’t expect: compulsive gambling.
Several studies linked Abilify to compulsive behaviors – binge eating, hypersexual behavior and pathological gambling – in people with no history of these problems prior to taking the drug. This compulsive gambling is so addictive that it’s difficult to stop without professional help.
The addiction drives people to gamble by means necessary and to continue doing so even if they can’t afford it. They gamble with credit cards or borrow money. In severe cases, people feel they need to gamble to continue living. While this type of side effect might not cause physical harm, it can cause psychological distress and ruin lives.
People left with crippling debt after compulsive gambling caused by Abilify may have the option to file lawsuits against Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company and Bristol-Myers Squibb for compensation.
Drug companies have an obligation to inform the public about any harmful side effects of drugs they create and market. Unfortunately, sometimes the warning comes too late. In the case of people who took or still take Abilify, this may be tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars too late.
While the drug’s label warns of other side effects such as suicidal thoughts or increased risk of death in elderly patient with dementia, it does not mention compulsive behavior – specifically, gambling. In the meantime, the medication continues to rake in billions for Otsuka and Bristol-Myers and more and more patients may be at risk.
This is not the first time Bristol-Myers Squibb faced lawsuits for Abilify. The company paid $515 million to settle federal charges accusing it of illegal marketing – including marketing its popular drug to nursing homes in 2007, despite the fact that the drug may cause death in seniors with dementia.
Abilify is not FDA-approved for treatment of dementia. The company denied any wrongdoing.
|In other similar drug lawsuits, complaints accuse drug companies of the following:|
|Failing to warn the public of serious side effects|
|Selling a defective drug|
|Concealing health risks|
|Misrepresenting the safety and effectiveness of a drug|
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Abilify is not the first drug to draw lawsuits for compulsive gambling. Another drug known for causing compulsive behaviors is the Parkinson’s drug Mirapex (pramipexole). The drug affects a dopamine receptor in the brain that controls emotions and gives people a sense of pleasure – the D3 receptor. Researchers think that Abilify also affects the D3 receptor, which is why it also causes compulsive gambling.
A retired Minnesota police officer named Gary Charbonneau filed the first Mirapex compulsive gambling lawsuit. He lost $260,000 to compulsive gambling that lasted several years. In 2010, a jury ordered Boehringer Ingelheim, the drug’s maker, to pay Charbonneau $8.3 million dollars, including punitive damages. The jury found that Boehringer failed to warn about the risks, and a number of other lawsuits followed.